Billy’s father disappeared when he was only seven years old. One Christmas Eve, his father went outside to retrieve a present he had left in their car and never came back. When he had not returned an hour later, Billy’s mom called the police and after the requisite twenty four hours, she filed a missing persons report. Due to a lack of evidence of foul play, the case was closed after a week of investigating and Billy’s father’s disappearance was classified as abandonment of familial responsibility. Christmas was never the same for Billy after that.
Now, twenty years later, he is married with a three year old child and the holidays are beginning to mean something to Billy again. All because he is now seeing them as if for the first time, through the young, unjaded eyes of his son.
When his mom suddenly died six months ago, Billy and his wife became the owners of his childhood home. After some renovations to the upstairs bedrooms, the bathrooms and the kitchen, they have finally moved in, one week after Thanksgiving. Only one small area is still in progress, and the contractors have promised everything will be finished by Christmas—ripping out the old fireplace and chimney to install a wood burning stove.
Towards the end of the first week in December, Billy asked the contractor, who was working on demolishing the old brick chimney, if there was anything he could do to speed up the job. He was told that if he wanted to ease some of the workload, then he ought to finish the demolition work after the others had gone home for the weekend.
Determined to have the contractors out of the house by Christmas, Billy awoke early that Saturday morning and began attacking the brick and exposed sheetrock with a sledge hammer. After about two hours of working his way up the wall, he swung the hammer and slammed through the brick lining the inside of the chimney. When he removed the hammer head, a large cloud of gray dust and debris fell to the floor and filled the air.
Coughing uncontrollably, Billy stepped back and rubbed his palms over his watering eyes. After a few minutes he was able to open his eyes again, and as he looked at the pile of ashes that had come out of the chimney, he vaguely remembered his mother mentioning that the chimney had stopped working years ago. Wanting to see how much ash remained inside, he walked over and using a flashlight, looked into the chimney. Seeing a gleam of white within, Billy enlarged the hole by wiggling free a loose brick, then he dropped it to the floor when the gleam of white turned out to be long bones with bits of dried, dirty flesh attached.
Staggering back in shock, he tripped over some rubble and landed on his butt. Seconds later he realized that if the bones were that length they would have to be human. Standing up, he left the room and did the only thing he could think of—called the police.
A short time later detectives and a Crime Scene Investigation team arrived and after some more demolition work, they removed a complete skeleton, along with scraps of red cloth with a fluffy white substance attached. The team took numerous photographs and carefully bagged everything up—bones, gray dust and cloth, while the detectives questioned Billy. During their conversations, it came out that the lead detective had also worked the case, as a rookie officer, when Billy’s father disappeared twenty years before.